Gold Center Trail

This past weekend, we had a nice day on my day off for once. So I took advantage of the sunshine and warm weather to get out and hike. Or so I thought.

I’ve been waiting to take my snowshoes out for a real winter trek, and the timing has been bad. I set my sights on the Gold Center trail, which leaves at the base of the mountains behind Clarkia and climbs its way up to the ridge just below Grandmother Mountain. I’ve always wanted to hike this trail, and winter seems like the best time to do this since the trailhead at Freezout Saddle is inaccessible.

The road out was rough as the snow was wet and almost slushy, but my Subaru made it with no trouble. Due to the past few days being so warm, I was expecting some dense, heavy snow that is fairly easy to walk on. But I found that while the snow was heavy, it was still very much unpacked, and even in snow shoes, I was having a tough time walking. Perhaps I should have brought the extra flotation tails with me after all, or perhaps I’m just woefully out of shape.

Deary has almost no snow left. Moscow and Pullman are dry. But Clarkia still has 2-3 feet, and the mountain elevations were getting fresh snow when we had rain at the bottom. That seemed promising. But I didn’t get out until after 1:00, so I had given up on making it to the ridge on this trip. I hadn’t expected the walk to be so difficult that it took me an our to go one mile on flat terrain.

Nevertheless, the snowy forest was beautiful, and my tracks were the first on this trail. Even the snowmobiles hadn’t gone this far in. The idea of getting to the summit of Grandmother Mountain in winter is somehow in reach, aided by the longer days. Still, it’s a 5+ mile, 3000 ft. ascent, so we’ll see. If I can float better on the snow, I may be able to endure the full 10 miles in one day. Otherwise, it may be summer challenge.

Gold Center Creek Grandmother Mountain